A beautiful royal baby – now we need equality for every unborn child

Taken from the Catholic Universe – 28 July 2013

Prince George

The nation is this week celebrating the birth of a healthy baby son to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge – congratulations to this lovely young couple who are undoubtedly going to make wonderful parents.

My heart went out to Kate Middleton, having suffered identical ailments in pregnancy, from severe morning to sickness, to enduring sweltering summer temperatures in the final weeks before delivery. Kate may have many advantages, but chances are she isn’t going to enjoy the opportunity that most of us get to slob around the house in our dressing gowns in the post-natal blissful haze known as the babymoon! Watching the media furore over the past few days was a compelling reason for her to consider having any future births at home.

What was however both telling and heartening was that not once, even in the very early stages of the Duchess’s pregnancy was her son referred to as anything other than what he is, namely a baby. The absence of the word ‘foetus’ which we hear so often in relation to pregnant women, especially in the time before the baby becomes viable, was noticeable. Not once did any reporter or journalist refer to the Royal Baby as ‘the products of conception’, ‘a bunch of cells’, a ‘future potential person’ but for the entire duration of the pregnancy, his humanity and future destiny was explicit. The pregnancy even prompted a rushed change to the succession laws to ensure that the baby would automatically succeed to the throne regardless of their gender.

How many other unborn children have the privilege of being deemed so important that they necessitate a change to the country’s legislation? That’s not in any way to begrudge the status of the newborn, but instead of fighting for an unattainable equality of birth, (far better to concentrate our minds on the equality of death) surely we should all be fighting for the equality for every unborn child to be deemed a baby and thus accorded the opportunity of life?

Whilst we were all quite rightly desperately excited for the royal couple, I wish that some of the excitement and magic of pregnancy could be transferred elsewhere, to the frightened pregnant teen, to the single mother living in a run-down tower block, to the homeless drug addict whose baby will most probably be born with an addiction. Whilst the world was watching and waiting in breathless anticipation, I wondered how many other mothers would be labouring, perhaps alone, without the huge amount of support and well-wishers or loving family unit that the Duchess is fortunate to possess and was reminded of the gross inequality regarding how their pregnancies are viewed by society. Whereas the world would have reacted with horror had the Duchess suddenly decided to abort, proving that the whole notion of choice is a misnomer, had the teen mum or drug addict had an abortion, it would have been seen as the morally correct course of action, that these children would have been better off not born, due to their status and potential health problems.

Every child is born of equal dignity and worth in the eyes of the creator and so in one sense every birth is that of a Royal baby! Kate and William’s baby was never just a cluster of cells, but always a human being in the eyes of everyone, even the most avowed pro-choice commentators, by virtue of the fact that he was wanted. Compare the worldwide interest and concern for this baby’s welfare with that shown for the tragic victims of Kermit Gosnell, the American late-term abortionist who killed newborn babies at full term by snipping their necks. The media was on the whole disinterested and only began to report the distressing details following a widespread campaign on social media.

It’s certainly worth not only noting the dual standards applied by the mainstream media towards the Cambridge baby but also applying it to all children, refusing to allow the frame of clinical euphemism that only serves to dehumanise the unborn. Abortion providers rely upon the power of language to couch the unpalatable truth in terms of medical terminology. We never congratulate pregnant women on their embryos, foetuses, pluripotent cells or products of conception and this is why pro-life counselling groups cause such consternation in that they too are always keen to refer to the baby in purely factual terms. Political language is deliberately used, as in the words of George Orwell it is ‘designed to make lies sound more truthful, murder respectable and give the appearance of solidity to pure wind’.

All babies are deserving of a welcome fit for a prince and every single pregnancy an occasion of great joy as well as an opportunity of service, whether that be from the expectant mother carefully sustaining and providing for her child’s needs, or from those around her who should seek to provide her with every means of support in gratitude for her physical sacrifice. We should be daring to work for a society in which the bunting is hung out for every single baby.

 In the meantime we should keep the Duke and Duchess and their new prince in our prayers and hope that they continue to model a strong vision of marriage and family life for the nation. It would be wonderful if they could be generous enough to break the mold and produce a large family of Catholic-sized proportions.

Even better that the baby was born on the feast day of St Mary Magdalene, the icon of a repentant sinner turning back to Christ. Perhaps there’s a portent for the UK in there somewhere? Let’s hope so.

Pro-life Princess

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As many pro-life campaigners have noted, the wonderful news that their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting a baby, has proven yet another significant marker in the consciousness of the general public, of the humanity of the unborn child.

Nowhere in the press coverage is the baby referred to as foetus (derived from the Latin word fetus, meaning offspring, bearing forth or hatching of young) or as a bunch of pluripotent cells, instead there is much speculation as to the physical characteristics of the baby and his or her future. Despite being an estimated 8 weeks old, there is no doubt in the minds of the media and public, that this is a ‘royal baby’.

What is intriguing is that the couple have decided to bring the announcement forward, prompted by the Duchess’s unfortunate severe morning sickness for which she has my sympathies, it is an extremely debilitating condition. Given the climate surrounding the press following publication of the Leveson Report last week, actually there was no need for the couple to make this announcement quite so early. Though there would have been much speculation had the news leaked that Kate was in hospital and of course it was a matter of public interest, there was no necessity for a pregnancy announcement. The Royal couple enjoy much public support, a fact underlined by the universal sympathy for the Duchess after she was snapped topless in the privacy of an enclosed holiday home, by an unscrupulous paparazzi member.

If news of her hospitalisation leaked, a vaguely worded statement could have been released, reassuring the public that the Duchess was fine and that this was a private matter. Though this would not have stopped the inevitable speculation, the press could well have been briefed to afford the Duchess some privacy and breathing space during this difficult and delicate time, with promises of a formal press call later. No editor worth their salt would want to run the risk of incurring public censure by being intrusive and had the royal couple wanted to keep this quiet for a few weeks longer, my bet is the press would, in the current post-Levenson climate, have laid off.

So why didn’t William and Catherine stay quiet? Most couples do tend to keep the news to themselves up until the period which carries the highest risk of miscarriage has passed and the scan has confirmed that the baby is free of any congenital or chromasomal abnormalities. That they have gone public so soon, is indicative of their pro-life attitude. Whatever happens and God Willing everything is fine, the announcement signals a commitment to the baby, whatever the future may hold.

The only reason for announcing before the 12 week mark is to signal your commitment and joy. It’s one of the reasons that I have no qualms in informing people I’m pregnant as soon as I know, not only so they can be considerate, but because I know that scan results are irrelevant as to the question of whether or not I am having a baby. My hope is that this will set a trend; to announce a pregnancy early goes against society’s current tendency to ignore or deny that one is carrying a live human being until such time as it is decided that it is wanted – usually after confirmation that it is healthy.

There is one elephant in the room nonetheless. The royal baby is being referred to as such, because he or she is wanted. Those who would defend the use of nondescript clinical euphemisms such as “products of conception” would state that what makes the royal baby worthy of being described in human terms is that s/he is wanted and planned for. Whilst no republican, this inequality is at the root of both Christian and pro-life concern. It is very clear that William and Catherine will be wonderful parents and both William and Harry have their mother’s attributes in terms of an affinity with the sick, disabled and outcast. The royal couple have both the disposition and resources to cope, should the baby experience any health difficulties. A measure of how pro-life the country is as a whole, is how we would react to the news that the couple had aborted their baby if he or she were revealed to have Downs Syndrome. More than 90% of babies with the condition are aborted, so why would it be so abhorrent if the royals were to follow suit? What if the Duchess changed her mind about the pregnancy for any other reason. Would she be admonished or decimated by the media? If so, why? Isn’t it supposed to be all about choice?

The answer is, as always, money and resources. These are the key factors that make the difference between a baby being wanted or unwanted and thus human or sub-human, worthy or unworthy. This is the heart of pro-life sentiment, that all human life is of equal worth and dignity, regardless of where it is in its journey; whether it has one day to go before it emerges from the womb, or whether it only has a few hours left. Everyone deserves the same respect and right to life, regardless of disabilities or family circumstances. Cristina Odone said yesterday that Catherine’s pregnancy will be a great equaliser. Let’s hope that this is prescient, that the public come to realise that all unborn babies are human and worthy of life regardless of whether one’s blood is blue.

Is an acknowledgement that the royal couple’s 8 week old baby is human only by virtue of his or her birth circumstances really the position of an enlightened twenty-first society? Nothing could be more illustrative of how abortion really is a the scourge of the poor or dispossessed.

Congratulations to Catherine and William nonetheless. I hope she recovers and enjoys good health and is afforded a degree of privacy and respect during the rest of her pregnancy. How marvellous if they could take this opportunity to help and highlight the causes of all the women and babies who are not as human as theirs.